By Vicki Tosher, Boomer Volunteer
As I drank my morning coffee and watched the morning news on June 28 2012, I reflected on what the future held as I readied myself for the full day of my now two and a half year old work contract. I still had half day to go the next day, but then it was over. Suddenly, the “Breaking Story” banner came on along with the “big” voice as the picture broke to Washington, DC. I’d forgotten about the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act was due that morning. It was about 8:02 in Englewood, CO.
My breath caught in mid-swallow as a man rushed forward to hand the reporter a sheaf of paper. She stumbled in mid-sentence, said “hold on, I have to look through this,” then she reported that while the Court did not uphold the Act under the Commerce clause, it DID uphold it under the Taxing Powers. What was “it”? The biggest question, of course, was the individual mandate, requiring that everyone purchase a health plan or pay a penalty. Since the penalty will be collected by the IRS, a taxing authority, it falls under Taxing powers – that puts it very simply.
On hearing the decision I swallowed, my breath returned, I did a fist-pump and sent a congratulatory email to some friends. Why? Oh, so many reasons! I am a health care advocate; a breast cancer advocate. I have been working for almost 20 years on access to quality health care for all.
I have heard critics of the ACA say this law is government takeover and would harm Americans. I am appalled at these comments. While I have not read the entire law, I do not believe it does nor does it intend to take over the entire health care industry. I can speak to some of what it does do.
Having experienced breast cancer twice, access to health care and adequate insurance is not a simple thing. It will be easier under the Affordable Care Act. I am self-employed and currently covered by CoverColorado (Colorado’s High Risk Pool – where people who are denied private insurance can buy coverage). At age 60, my monthly premium is almost $1000/month. As I mentioned at the start, my self-employment just ended. While I am hopeful of obtaining employment in the near future, that premium was about one-third of gross income.
There are many things in the ACA that will contribute to improving people’s chances and help them be able to afford health plans: state health benefit exchanges, continued competition between companies, the individual mandate and the prohibition keeping companies from banning people who have pre-existing conditions, like me.
The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange (COHBE) will assist a great many Coloradans improve their understanding of available insurance plans, the companies providing the plans, the benefits provided within the plans and where to go for assistance when they need questions answered. The Affordable Care Act requires that coverage be “evidence-based” and that there is a “basic health plan” provided in every plan. And there will be financial help for some people to be able to buy insurance in the COHBE. COHBE will help people like me – who need health insurance because of my pre-existing condition. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would argue with that.